All posts tagged: pets corner

Pets Corner- teaching a dog to settle

Getting the right balance between activity and rest is a tough call for many dog and puppy owners. Attempting to burn off energy by increasing exercise and activity only adds to the problem, creating an adrenalin junkie pet. What every dog and owner needs is an ‘off switch’ and one way is by teaching the dog to settle on cue. There are two phases to teaching settle. In the first part we use a mat to teach the dog to move to a specific place. In the second we teach the dog to lie down and relax while he is in that place, slowly increasing the duration. Teach your dog to settle in a specific place using a mat (always put the mat away after training). Put the mat down on the floor away from distractions. Now put a treat onto it and allow your dog to investigate the treat. As soon as he puts his paws on the mat say ‘yes’ give another, better treat. Now pick up the mat. Repeat, putting the mat …

Pets Corner: The benefits of pet ownership

The benefits of pet ownership An acquaintance once looked at my dog and said rather pointedly ‘what’s the point of you’? Her view was that domestic pets are a social and climate burden and have no place in the modern world because they serve no real function. It got me thinking are there real and justifiable benefits to modern pet ownership? Setting aside the continuing use of service dogs in policing, search and rescue and people assistance, it is true, we no longer need dogs to help us hunt and catch food or guard property; we don’t use cats to control vermin. There are no obvious functional benefits to owning rabbits, hamsters or budgies. Those against focus on the associated costs of pet ownership, citing a heavy carbon footprint, risks to wild animal populations and disease transmission to humans. Yet myriad studies suggest there are still very real benefits to pet ownership and that it would be a poorer world without them. The evidence that pets lead to health and happiness benefits in humans has …

Pets Corner: The problem with prey drive

Recently I have witnessed a variety of dogs whizzing around various local parks, off lead and in hot pursuit of some small furry- usually a squirrel. I’ve seen them repeatedly leap, baying and clawing at the nearest tree in an effort to reach the object of their blood lust, which is seeking refuge in the branches. Others adopt the classic ‘pointer pose’- a statue-like, motionless fixation on a furry object of desire, one paw up, nose and body pointed forward, and in this immoveable state, completely impervious to owner entreaty or command- that is if the owner is anywhere to be seen, and mostly they are not. It seems a proportion of dog owners feel this is excellent exercise and a great way for their pet to let off steam. Well, I must disagree. Is it instinctive? Yes, highly. Do some dogs want to do it more than others? Yes. Do some of us view squirrels and rats as pestilent and therefore fair game? Sadly, yes. However, those owners should think what they are encouraging …

Pet’s Corner: Why is my cat weeing around the house?

Cat wee around the home has to be one of the most maddening issues a pet owner faces, not least because it stinks, but also because it can present a seemingly intractable issue that crops up for no apparent reason. Obviously the stakes are higher if you own an indoor cat, but even outdoor cats can start urinating in the home. In such a short article it is impossible to cover all the bases, but here is a brief guide signposting potential reasons and solutions. Adopt the mind-set of a detective and systematically exclude each possibility and solution before moving on to the next. If in doubt, speak to your vet and a feline behaviourist. Spraying or puddles Identifying which your cat is doing can help point to the root cause. Some cats do both. Spray is generally found on vertical surfaces. Close monitoring of your cat’s behaviour may also reveal what is going on. Paw kneading and treading, vibrating an upright tail while backing up to vertical surfaces, usually occur just before spraying. Neuter …

Pet’s corner: Teaching your dog ‘leave’

The leave command, also known as ‘dog zen’, is possibly the most important command of all. ‘Leave’, as distinct from ‘drop’, tells the dog to disengage from an object, another animal or a human, on cue. The importance of ‘leave’ is that it teaches the dog to control its instinctive urge to move towards things that it wants or things that it dislikes and for owners this can become a powerful and incredibly useful tool. A solid ‘leave’ should be essential puppy training, up there with an instant ‘sit’, beautiful lead manners and an impeccable recall. There are different ways to teach this command and most trainers will have a preference. However, the essential aim is to teach the dog that a tiny disengagement (averting its eyes momentarily or looking away) earns a reward. Once the dog understands this principle the owner can then begin to ask for more of the required behaviour before a reward is delivered. Here is an example of how to teach the first stage of ‘leave’. Hold a treat on …